Sunday, October 10, 2010

Part 1 - How to spruce up your 1/32nd Revell/Monogram Colonial Viper

I think almost every single Sci Fi Scale Modeller would have at least own the 1/32 scale Revell/Monogram Colonial Viper from the original Battlestar Galactica series. This is like a holy grail among Sci Fi Modellers, a kit that defines and differentiate Sci Fi enthusiast from the other modellers - or so I thought until I found out non Sci Fi fans too collect this famous fighter. What can I say, the Mark I Viper has achieved cult status even among non fans.

Its a pity that Revell have ceased production for this beauty as they weren't keen on extending their license with the studio. Cultman still has a few of them in stock but bear in mind, they are now considered "collectors items", so price have skyrocketed. Below are the box art covers done for the TOS Vipers's releases throughout the years

I have seen numerous builds done of the TOS Viper and some of them are simply mind boggling. Some has extra fittings and lots of scratch build parts, others has fantastic paint work and weathering and battle damage effects, and some even went as far as lighting up their kits. And even fewer went all the way to make their Vipers as feasibly real to the BSG universe as possible (taking them closer to the New Galactica TV series).

We will be looking at a series of builds done up in a spectacular fashion with the hope that they will inspire all scale modellers who have this kit to begin work on them - if they hadn't already. First, lets look at the standard spruce tree for the Revell's kit parts. These are what you will get in the box, the basic design of a Colonial Viper.

Thrusters comparison between the reissue (right) and the old kit (left)

Clear canopy, dradis display and engine covers for lighting

The engine exhaust were also redesigned to reveal gaps to allow for lighting. The display hole have been moved downward toward the midsection of the engines. The earlier design had them on the fuselage

New display stand design

The older kits have opaque canopies, meaning the whole canopy is molded in colour and you can't see through the cockpit. In fact, there is no cockpit. I have seen some modellers actually cutting out the opaque pieces and scratch build their own cockpit, while others simply coat them black

Millennium International still produces the cockpit set along with a canopy if you wish to include one with your kit (if it didn't have one) or, if you wish to have a more accurate representation of the cockpit.

Of if you want the Galactica 80 Dual Seater option, the set is also available at Starship Modeller

And for those with the reissued kit with cockpit, there's also the Fighter lighting panels from Outer Space Outfitters. Even if you don't wish to light up your cockpit, it looks so much better than what Revell gave us. Only problem is that I've been waiting for more than 4 months now for this to be restocked. I saw one at eBay but refrained from buying it there as I don't know who the seller is.

And both the old and reissues do not have landing gears. Not really sure why this was omitted but there were aftermarket parts made from Millennium International, but its been out of stock for so long now. The best alternative is to scratch build your own.

Hence if you were to build the TOS Revell Viper straight out from the box, she'd still look nice and good, but bear in mind there are probably a few hundred thousand fans doing that too. Below are a few samples of very well constructed and painted Mark I Vipers, some out of the box, and some with aftermarket parts.

You can see the different variance each of the modellers above took. And all of them look really good. Some even opted for the original display stand issued from Monogram, some applied aftermarket parts and decals .One even had the landing gear set. So don't worry how yours will look like at the end, cause if you spend enough time and love on it, the passion itself will make your kit look as good. The thing here now is do you wish to make yours look different and good?

We will look at several spectacular builds to see how others have done theirs, with the hope they can serve as inspiration to everyone else to build theirs. Please remember that this is not a contest to see who can build the better kit - leave that to your IPMS contest to evaluate. This blog here is mere to inspire people to begin building their kits, and provide some tips on how things were done.

One particular scale modeller I'll be emphasizing on a lot is Trastoman's, a Spanish modeller who produced an excellent upgraded Viper build. From a glance, she looks almost the same with the other build. But look carefully. Almost 85% of this kit has been modified/upgraded to reflect a closer actual working Mark I Viper

And if you are daring enough, then you might even consider lighting up yours as seen below (please let me know if you know who build this so I can give that modeller credit as well as linking back to his site)

There's so many options and variables you can consider putting into your build. The most important is of course that you are happy with what you have done.

So what would you like to do with yours? Look out for part 2 where I highlight some of the options out there.